Having established himself as fearless, heartfelt, and comfortable discussing taboos, Circumcision explored masculinity and its expectations and its relationship with openness and mental health. Chawner's decision to go vegan was an extension of this and provided ripe ground to explore the stigma around veganism, specifically for men. The two shows fit nicely together.
The two also reveal a lot about Chawner's relationship with food, which he describes as 'complicated'. He reveals that his past with food and self-image and masculinity enable him to treat veganism with a pinch of salt, having dealt with worse, more damaging misconceptions in his life. All this while being able to tell the jokes about himself that you know that other people will have bored him with.
His delivery hasn't changed – it demonstrated once again how Chawner deserves a place among the upper tiers of British comedy. This comes out in his execution, writing, and timing. It actually leaves precious little to write about in a review.
It's another experience to see a work in progress. Oftentimes, as Chawner did, comedians preface the show by announcing that there'll be gaps and note consulting. Chawner continued to improvise whilst he dropped off the edge of the stage to play some music and process his notes, which served to present his impressive astuteness and professionalism.
The shattering of expectation came right until the end where, rather than finish with quintessentially British sarcasm, he took the heartfelt approach of beseeching the audience to encourage open-mindedness. What of this approach, though? It worked for an afternoon to early evening show we sat in at 16:45, above an overflowing Quadrant. The audience appreciated the intimacy. But in a primetime show, which he could also sell out, a sharper finish that puts a humorous twist on the same message could make it a memorable bit of structured comedy.
- Dave Chawner: C'est La Vegan, work in progress is running at The Quadrant every weekend, 13-14, 20-21 May, 3-4 Jun at 16:45.
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